“I believe you lack understanding and maybe willfully lack that understanding,” said Judge Brennan to Masten. “It is never honorable to violate a court order.”
If you are not familiar with the case, it involves the head of a Crime Stoppers tips phone line who refused to turn in information that would potentially lead to the identity of a tipster and his/her life put in danger. Director Richard Masten rather than turn in the piece of paper where the info had been collected to the judge, proceeded to eat it,…in court.
I lost a link where it had all the superior court decisions and other legalities that explained the legality of anonymous tips (rather than full-fledged accusations which are covered by 6th amendment) so i won’t dwell on this part. But Crime Stoppers has been perhaps the most effective tool in police work ever designed. You cannot watch an episode of the First 48 in which a tip is called in via Crime Stoppers to help solve or at least guide the investigation to a possible motive and/or suspect.
What surprised me and not in a positive way is that the judge said what she said as if court orders are always 100% infallible and constitutional. Even though we indeed have a system to redress the injustices done in a court of law (apparently the judge does not know what superior courts are for), these are not always fast and in cases where time or life are at stake, they offer no immediate protection. It is to the individual to do what he considers morally right and understand that some jail time might be included in the package until justice is done.
I would like to see this particular case be examined a bit more deeply regarding the judge’s actions. But I won’t hold my breath, this is Florida.